Sales activity in the Spanish housing market is more or less steady at around 21,000 sales per month, which I believe will turn out to have been the low point in the cycle when all is said and done.
There were 21,290 homes sales inscribed in the property register in September (excluding social housing), according to the latest figures from the National Institute of Statistics. These figures reflect sales completed a month or two earlier.
That represents an annualised decline of 6pc, and is the lowest level of sales in September since the crisis began.
However, only once this year have sales fallen below 20,000 (in March), so the market has clearly found a floor at this level, taking into account lower prices and the economic situation. It’s reasonable to assume there would be more sales if the banks weren’t being so stingy with mortgages.
Year to date, sales are still 1pc higher than last year, thanks to artificially high sales recorded in January and February, brought about by the elimination of tax breaks for buyers at the end of last year.
I forecast that we will close this year with home sales slightly down on last year, and that 2013 will turn out to be the bottom of the market, in volume terms at least.
2014 will prove to be a turning point in terms of average house prices, is my prediction. Prices in some segments have already turned, according to anecdotal evidence.
Thin sales volumes behind regional volatility
On a regional level, sales increased in the Canaries, Catalonia, and Andalusia, and fell everywhere else (see chart). Keep in mind that sales volumes are now so low, that even small increases or declines can provoke big changes in percentage terms. In the light of that, the 30pc increase in the Canaries, and similar fall in Madrid, do not necessarily indicate a trend.